Another night, another tight game for the Tri-City ValleyCats.
This time, though, the ’Cats were the ones celebrating.
Terrell Joyce hit a three-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth Friday to give Tri-City a 7-4 New York-Penn League win at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
After dropping one-run decisions — on a wild pitch and a passed ball, no less — in the first two games of a three-game set with Mahoning Valley, the ValleyCats refused to let the Scrappers complete the sweep.
Joyce’s fifth homer of the season was a no-doubter to help the ValleyCats get some momentum after dropping four of their pervious five games. The blast scored Alex Hernandez, who was hit by a pitch and walked four times, and Jamie Ritchie, who singled.
“I just put my head down and get out of the box. I didn’t see where it went,” said Joyce, who had struck out his previous two at-bats. “We lost our big RBI guys [J.D. Davis and A.J. Reed], and a lot of the guys are trying to step up and be heroes.
“But we need to stay focused and do what we can do. Tonight, we scored seven runs and got a big win.”
Shortstop Mott Hyde went 2-for-4, and his two-run double gave the ’Cats a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
“It was definitely a big day,” Hyde said. “We had to come in and just focus. The biggest thing is to relax, not to stress. Just go out there and have fun.”
Aaron Vaughn, the third Tri-City pitcher, picked up the win with two-hit relief in getting the last seven outs.
“We were getting a little bit down as a team, but I think this will be a huge morale booster,” said Vaughn, who helped himself by catching Mahoning Valley’s Yonathan Mendoza off second base to work out of a ninth-inning jam.
Hyde, whose first pro homer tied Thursday’s game in the 10th inning, gave the ValleyCats an early 3-1 lead with a two-run double in a three-run third inning off Mahoning Valley starter Cameron Hill.
The Tri-City shortstop dumped a two-out fly ball just inside the right-field line, and just out of reach of Scrappers right fielder D’Vone McClure, to chase home Joyce and Jose Solano. Solano had singled in Hernandez with the first run of the third inning.
The two-base hit was a team-best 13th for Hyde, who now finds himself second on the team with 23 RBI.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play somewhere,” said Hyde. “I didn’t hit it very hard, and he might have misplayed it, but right now, we’ll take anything we can get.”
ValleyCats catcher Jake Rodriguez made it 4-2 with a solo homer leading off the fourth after the Scrappers got to Luis Ordosgoitti for a run in the top of the inning.
Scrappers’ first baseman Leo Castillo tied the game, 4-4, in the seventh when he lined a two-out RBI single. Vaughn had relieved Ordosgoitti, who got himself in trouble by throwing away a two-out comebacker. Greg Allen scored from first, and Patterson went all the way to third as ValleyCats first baseman Ariel Ovando chased the errant thrown down the right-field line.
Castillo followed with his sixth hit in 12 at-bats in the series.
Both players who collided with the outfield fence in Thursday’s game were not in the starting lineup Friday.
Tri-City left fielder Derek Fisher suffered an apparent shoulder injury when he crashed into the fence chasing Leo Castillo’s two-run extra-base hit in the sixth inning. He was replaced in the ninth inning.
Mahoning Valley center fielder Bradley Zimmer went face-first at full speed into the center-field fence running down Joyce’s long fly ball, making the catch that ended the game.
Manager Ed Romero expects Fisher to miss a couple more days.
“He hit the pole out there,” said Romero. “He banged up his shoulder, his head.”
The Batavia Muckdogs come to town to open a three-game series that includes a 5 p.m. game Sunday, and an 11 a.m. start on Monday.
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